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How mHealth Is proving to be the next technology frontier in healthcare

  • Highlights

  • What makes mHealth a great investment opportunity

  • Current trends & drivers of mHelalth

  • Creating a successful mHealth model

  • A scalable and profitable solution

That day is not too far away when your mobile assistant is likely to tell you the reason behind that niggling pain in your back. Your smartphone is expected to be your health advisor,all thanks to mobile health (mHealth)- the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices.

M-Health: The Indian Scenario

As per PricewaterhouseCoopers, India ranks second among the developing economies in adopting mHealth.
A recent primary research study conducted by Wipro and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) found a rapid end-user demand for mHealth in India.
The mHealth Ecosystem: 2015 – 2030 study estimates that the mHealth market would have made nearly $18 billion in 2016 alone. In spite of roadblocks associated with regulation, patient adoption and confidentiality concerns, the research forecasts additional growth at a CAGR of 40% over the next 5 years.

India has shown significant mHealth movements in recent years.

- Aravind Eye Hospital System’s mobile health units are renowned in their use of wireless technology.
- The Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation has over 70 telemedicine midpoints across India that enables third-party contractors to reach out to rural areas.
- The Government has issued projects for a range of national telemedicine arrangements and structures, even within oncology and disease monitoring.

A huge investment opportunity for medical professionals. Despite this increasing adoption, India’s footprint in mHealth is tiny. With a largely under-served rural population,there’s a huge uncaptured market that medical professionals to leverage.
As healthcare professionals look for ways to maximise their patient outreach while reducing expenses, many view mHealth as the answer to achieve cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, mHealth provides a host of opportunities to the pharma industry, varying from research and developmental pursuits to their fight against spurious medicines.
India’s healthcare troubles are aggravated by its elevated non-communicable illness burden. Degenerative maladies are leading factors of demise and impairment in India and their share is predicted to climb rapidly. This is where healthcare has the potential of developing mHealth programmes in two clear-cut market opportunities:
1. Access to healthcare can be extended to rural areas with services where there is restricted capacity.
2. Healthcare can be concentrated on the urban affluent who have the capacity to bear the cost of expensive monitoring utilities that can enrich their health.

How can doctors in invest in mHealth?

Doctors can either invest in apps that provide access to health records, diagnosis, medication prescriptions etc. or apps that assist in health management and monitoring, physician appointments etc.
The cost to build an app can range anywhere between $5,000 - $15,000. IT companies that build apps could very well deliver a complete, customised healthcare app within 6–8 weeks. The expenses to build a tailor-made medical app is dependent on a developer's rates, total extent and quality of the app design, app functionality and additional features.
A Business Loan for Doctors with a high loan amount of Rs.20 lakhhelps physicians fund this investment and cash on the booming mHealth market

The Current Trends

With the advent of mHealth, patient treatmentcan go beyond the confines of conventional healthcare institutions to treat patients wherever they are, while improving patient outcomes and bringing down costs.
Technology innovation:Social networking, cloud computing and big data analytics are laying the cornerstone for patients to get healthcare in not just high-priced medical centres and far-flung specialty clinics but in their localities and surroundings.
Smart mobility: Empowers patients to obtain greater charge of their online medical reports thereby, improving their well-being.Thanks to smartphones,end-users are taking part in health-connected dialogue online.
M-Health apps: Today, there are over 165,000 mHealth apps available in Apple iTunes and Android app stores, according to a new study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.Health and wellness apps are driving mobile health technology adoption and are altering lifestyle.
Advanced mobile disease detection: Detection devices for blood pressure, pulse rate, etc. are now wirelessly linked to smartphones with some facilities are being built into mobile devices

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Drivers accelerating mHealth

• Increasing consumer expectations: Patients will increasingly expect healthcare system to answer their queries within an hour or a day.
Growing cost consciousness: Patients are likely to expect better information and healthcare exchanges from commercial sites and insurance providers.
Demand for mobile services: Providers of mHealth solutions cantake a cue from their counterparts in other industries.
Social networks:A broad platform for physicians for patient-centric experimentation as they share best practices and encourage positive lifestyle change among peer groups.
Fight counterfeit drugs: Through SMS, consumers can now check the authenticity of medications.

Challenges to mHealth

The big data challenge: The more the quantity and quality of data, the more healthcare providers and patients would benefit. According to research firm IDC, data is growing at an annual rate of 40% and the challenges to improving healthcare lies in controlling the data. Big data poses challenges for analysts to detect, examine, incorporate, and communicate with real-time information and connected programs. Problems may occur due to a lack of appropriate intelligent tools, convenience and accurate training.
Confidentiality and ‘Big Brother’fears: The rise of big data is bringing security concerns as there is a need for data to only reachthe right people. With the recent spate of data hacking taking place worldwide, the risk of exposing private healthcare information has never been greater.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) challenge: Medicalorganisations grapple to secure data within their premises.
The talent challenge: Very few people have the requisite knowledge in mobile technology to drive the development of healthcare mobility as quickly as stakeholders would like.

The way forward

Emerging markets, emerging solutions- Unbalanced health infrastructure offers rural India and the urban poor the most basic care. However, there is an increasing pressure on the government to raise healthcare spending, thanks to the rapid economic growth driving citizens to demand for better health infrastructure and improved services. Almost 32% of the mHealth professional respondents had the opinion thatas of June 2016, remote monitoring has the greatest market potential in the mobile health app categories worldwide.
Greater need and fewer options- Due to a paucity of physicians and much of the population living in the countryside, medical care is often given by those with only the most basic training. In such cases, mobile technology is the best and the only viable instrument to reach rural India.
From technology to solutions worth buying - For mHealth to be adopted rapidly, there needs to be services and products that appeal to citizens on price points.

Ingredients for a successful mHealth model

For a successful mHealth model, mobile health applications must:
- encompass interoperability with detectors and mobile devices
- integrate current activities of patients
- provide intelligent andauthentic solutions
- enable data to be shared
- adopt practices to maximise ROI
- get feedbacks through a patient engagement

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